New Year's Resolution: Let's Get in Proper Shape

We Have to Shed the Weight of Apathy and Get Diversity-Fit

By Published on .

Tiffany Warren
Tiffany R. Warren
With 2008 in full swing, many of you have made one or several New Year's resolutions. I, too, have made both personal and professional goals for 2008. Top on my list is to continue to lose weight -- the weight of apathy that's settled on a weary advertising industry.

In 2007, my fellow industry "fitness" trainers, Carol Watson, Pepper Miller, Bill Imada, Karl Carter, Albert J. Ferrer, Eugene Morris, Laura Martinez and Jonathan S. Feit, provided Big Tent readers with opinions and instructions to begin a course of action that will make our industry fit for success and strong for the future.

A good fitness regimen requires three important factors to be successful:
  • Consistent daily activity
  • A healthy menu
  • Willpower
These factors mirror those that will be needed to push past the plateau created by shallow, baseless and politically motivated diversity programs that have littered the landscape of our industry's past and present.

A regimen to lessen the weight of our industry's burdensome past is based on the following elements. The first is consistent daily activity. This includes grass roots efforts (e.g. employee resource groups), corporate internal efforts (e.g. training, retention-related bonuses) and external outreach (e.g. exciting recruiting efforts, industry support for all things diversity and sizable corporate donations to advertising/marketing/media related community-based programs).

Next, these activities must be fed by a healthy mix of genuine budgets and meaningful, non-stereotypical research to build personalized programs for an agency's unique fitness needs.

Finally, your regimen must be supported by the willpower of gatekeepers within the agency (mid- and senior-level leadership). Without their willpower and persistence and dedication on the part of all involved, the first two ingredients simply won't work. Perseverance is necessary in order to have long term success and impact.

In 2006, some members of the New York advertising industry got a wake-up call from the New York Commission on Human Rights and realized how much out of shape they were. This was a do or die moment. At the end of this January or early February the New York Commission of Human Rights will release its fitness report on the state of diversity employment at sixteen New York ad agencies. Will the change in our appearance be merely cosmetic or will we have changed the very core of our unhealthy lifestyles? Everyone knows that it's easy to lose weight the first year; the challenge is to not put it back on to insure a healthy lifetime ahead. In the end, you have to be fit to walk the talk.
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